by Adrian on June 14, 2012

We caught a bus then a train into Stockholm, arriving in the city centre around 11am.

Gamla Stan (old town) Stockholm

The next hour or so was spent finding a chandlery (always first on the list even in exotic locations!). All the walking made us hungry so we stopped for lunch in a pleasant looking square. The girl fancied a restaurant busy with locals, but the menu was too fishy for the geek so we moved on to the next place, where the waitress recommended a dish of smoked salmon and prawns which sounded good to the girl. When a plate of ham and cheese was brought to the table it was sent back as it was obviously an error, but the (different) waitress told me that was what had been ordered…this was disputed as the billed prawns and salmon were nowhere to be seen. The waitress seemed somewhat confused but duly disappeared with the dish, only to reappear with the same offering but with some prawns and salmon added on the side….being British I couldn’t be bothered to complain further so I deposited the ham on the geek’s plate and ate my cheese (and only sulked a little).

To compound the dissatisfaction with a disappointing but still Swedishly expensive lunch, the heavens opened and the square was deluged in rainwater. The restaurant canopy just about kept our heads dry and the one redeeming feature of a blanket made sure I didn’t freeze.

After lunch on the corner of the same square we found a fabulous indoor market – the Saluhall. We had a hot chocolate and coffee, and the girl (still feeling disgruntled about her lunch) had a consolatory bite-size mini muffin for which she was charged €2. At least the wifi was ‘free’. Then the girl bought 3 mackerel fillets which came to over 10€. It was good mackerel but not that good.

The weather brightened up in the afternoon and we strolled along the waterfront to the Wasa museum. The Wasa is an almost entirely preserved, enormous 17th Century warship that (in)famously heeled over and sank 1/2 mile after being launched.

It turns out they didn’t know too much about stability, free surface effect and naval architecture in those days, and they discovered (a) that 2 huge decks ladened with heavy canons made the ship very unstable and (b) low canon holes let water in when heeled and (c) too much decoration and superfluous woodwork is a waste of weight.

It sank, was preserved in the briny sea and mud and 300 years later was raised, restored and put in a museum.

It is an amazing massive monument to human vanity and folly. It is also difficult to photograph because it’s so enormous – see the person standing in the middle of the picture at the bottom to give an idea of scale – and because it’s kept in the dark to try to slow down the decomposition of the materials.

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